I don't think that's even a remotely similar situation. Freely available respecs do not allow one to choose from all skills in the game from level one, which is the implication I'm getting from this. If I am misunderstanding you here, I apologize, but that's the impression I get reading this. Being able to reallocate your skill points doesn't remove the point of levelling because you still have go get to the level required for using a particular skill.
My point is that the current system makes each level signifigant in the creation of your character. Sure, you still have to get to the required level for using a particular skill, but with unlimited respec you could change to another skill, thus removing the uniqueness of each level you gain. It is similar to giving you everything - because that will be the end result by the time you've maxed out your experience.
With all due respect, that's kind of like saying you can't enjoy playing an Engineer because I have the option to play an Outlander. If an option is present within the game and you choose to ignore it, then for all intents and purposes it doesn't exist in your gameplay. If you're unable to ignore it, then we are (all other evidence of such aside, hehe) at an impasse.
Not quite. Unlimited respec wouldn't just be an option, it would be a facet of game. Just like no respec is a facet of TL1. The choice between Outlander and Engineer is distinctly permanent, therefore your analogy is more applicable to no-respec than it is to unlimited respec. I think calling it an "option" is a misnomer - if unlimited spec was the default, then it would be intrinsic to the game. It would change how people approach the game and it would also change how the game has to be designed.
What I'm suggesting doesn't put all options on the table from the get go. All it does is allow every player the freedom to choose for himself if and when to respec. The existence of such an option doesn't mean that anyone must use it, it simply allows players to choose whether or not to do so. I'm also not campaigning against starting a new character. I'm against the game telling me that I have to because it refuses to let me make an existing character what I want it to be. I prefer to make a new character because I want to, not because the game gives me no other option.
What I'm saying is that people seem to want all the options avaliable to them on the first game they play. I don't think that's the design goal of the game. I don't see what the point of making a new character would be with unlimited respec, other than to change your class. You already have the option of making an existing character what you want it to be - if you want to be something completely different you should start a new adventure. I don't know why it bothers you so much that you have to make some permanent choices on an individual character.
Sure some of this will be boredom. There's also the fact that until you invest fully in a skill you have no way of knowing how it will scale. That's not the same as making a mistake. Should I not have the option of changing things if I find that a skill that works well early game does little for me in the late game? Having the option to make such changes is not a matter of not wanting to play the game, it's about not being stuck due to the lack of information available within the game. Some folks are fine with that, others are not. What I propose still affords both sides the option to choose for themselves how they deal with such a situation.
Do we ever know everything about a game before we've got experience with it? Does it really matter that much? I don't think there are any truly useless skills or unbalanced scaling. I don't think the game ever puts you in a position where you're 100% stuck. Every single RPG or RPG hybrid game from Diablo 1 to Baldur's Gate to Heroes of Might and Magic requires some kind of choice-and-effect mechanic. It's intrinsic to the nature of the genre and if you could simply undo all your choices it would change the underlying theme of the game to something quite different.
I can't speak to your personal perception here. I can only say that I don't share it. If I'm able to respec at will to find builds that I enjoy then it's highly likely that I will find multiple variants of builds that suit me. Making 2 or 3 embermages focused around those different builds isn't all of them being "simply the one character" in my view.
Why would you make 2 or 3 embermages or multiple variants of builds if you could just swap your skills over and have a completely new build at any time? The only obstacle to doing this might be your items. Even then, what you're suggesting is already completely possible under the current model and I don't see how the game requires an unlimited respec in order for players to have multiple characters with different builds. The only thing you're offering in terms of an objection is that you might somehow regret your choices at some point. I personally don't think this is a gameplay limitation, it's more of a human limitation to what we can achieve in terms of satisfaction from a game.
Again, no one is suggesting this, nor does respec remove the replayability unless you choose not to replay as a result.
...but you are. Because once you've maxed out a character, the only thing that'd change with a new character is your class and your items - the latter of which wouldn't actually change, because items are random anyway and you could just continue finding new ones with your maxed-out, all-skills-respeccable supercharacter.
I must admit that this is the most compelling argument I've seen in these debates. It still, in my opinion, falls short though because the exact same thing could be said about mods. The modability fundamentally changes the game. Does this remove incentive to replay? I don't think so. Neither does me having the freedom to make my own choice. As for me trying to force you to play my way, I'm not sure where you get that. The only thing I'm trying to "force" is player freedom to choose. As I said before, if you're unable to avoid an option simply because it exists, then there's not much to say.
Except mods are completely optional and don't represent the default game design.
Anyway, I've enjoyed debating back and forth with you, Middlemoor, and I respect your point of view even though my own differs dramatically. I am done with this for the time being though. Enjoy!
All good. I understand where you're coming from too and I just hope the limited respec of TL2 gives you a decent compromise. I wouldn't be opposed to a compromise at all, I just think unlimited respec is a bit too extreme. I will also probably leave this debate alone for now.